Kristofer Sanz, our Music Director, sits down to talk about the importance of orchestra musicians collaborating with vocalists and dancers. NEW - Our Summer Intensives welcome instrumentalists this year for the first time ever. Registration is open now! More here

A lot of the students in our orchestra come from symphonic backgrounds. So why should they bother to learn about musical theatre when they may think that they won't necessarily pay this repertoire in the professional world?

As a musician, if you're going to continue in the field and go out and do this, it's important that whenever a gig or opportunity comes along, you have to take it. Being able to play any genre, you are a much more valuable musician...rather than just being a person who is just a classical violinist, or a classical cellist, or a classical pianist. You have to be able to play in all the musical styles.

So is there anything that you have to do differently when you are a musician in an orchestra playing with vocalists, any compensation you have to make?

I actually believe it's a lot more difficult to play in this type of setting with vocalists and dancers than to play a purely symphonic work. When you add vocalists, you add a whole new level of organic musical matter to what is going on. The orchestra musicians have to learn how to breathe with the singers and how to wait for the singers. It's also a different type of conducting for me. And it's a different type of watching the conductor for the orchestral students.

How is it a different type of conducting for you?

When you do symphonic music, you could basically start the musicians and technically step back, and it would just go. They're so well-rehearsed that it would work by itself 90% of the time. When you add a singer, however, there's new communication needed. Usually in this type of setting, there's a singer either in front of you, or behind you, or above you. There always needs to be some kind of coordination between what the singer is doing to the conductor, and then to the orchestra. So the conductor acts as a kind of channel that connects the orchestra to the singers.